No matter what your level of Passover observance, Passover includes a lot of tasks. It requires effort and planning.
With Passover, there is cleaning + cooking, food shopping and maybe other things too like learning and preparing the seder flow. And added to all this is the worry about getting all the tasks done.
Now, I don’t know about you, but it’s not always easy for me to stay connected to myself when I have a lot of tasks to do.
If there ever was a holiday that should include a break, it’s Passover. If we’re not careful, Jewish holidays can feel like a burden. There’s so much work and cooking with no time out for the person who’s making it all happen – you.
Connect to yourself so you can connect to the holiday and with the people you’re sharing it with.
I learned a technique from a client that I am going to try this year. This particular client was a college athlete before becoming an aid worker and a mother. We talked about her training – discipline in practice and preparing appropriately before a competition. I asked her what she did to prepare herself and she told me all the things we might expect – sleeping well, eating right, staying calm and centered, etc.
And then she said that before every event, she would intentionally pause and focus on the task ahead. She would pause to prepare.
She applied this “pause” to other areas of her life – taking intentional pauses before important meetings or presentations, before big family gatherings, before starting her day with her children. Without time to pause, prepare and breath, her routine with her kids felt like a burden – exhausting and a bit numbing. She created a disciplined schedule for herself, waking up half an hour before her children so she could have her “pause” time.
And it changed how she felt about her day-to-day life and parenthood.
We can use this same method to shape our emotional landscapes before and during Passover (and other parts of our life too).
It’s important to remember that some of the work we associate with Pesach is not actually necessary. We don’t need to cook a four-course meal for the Seder; no one is that hungry after all the matzah and maror. We don’t need to clean areas where food cannot possibly be found. There is no need to take it all upon ourselves – other family members or even paid help can pitch in and do their part.
When you lower expectations and plan to do less, you have time to pause and prepare spiritually and emotionally for the Seder. The Seder is one of the most important evenings in the Jewish calendar. It reminds us that we are in control of our own destinies, as free and independent people. It connects us to our long history and our resilience as a people despite thousands of years of persecutions.
The Seder is worthy of a pause, don’t you think?
Consider doing a pre-reading of the Haggadah or a book about Passover so you come to the Seder with fresh ideas to share with your family.
Or pause to rethink your menu; serving a little less means you have more time to focus on other things that feel important to you. You can use the extra time to make a list of things you would like to be freed from this year. What habits or mindsets would you like to throw out with the last pieces of bread?
Disappear into a bedroom or a quiet space for some stretches and reflection or head out for a head-clearing walk.
Passover doesn’t have to feel overwhelming or restrictive. Give yourself permission to step away from the noise and hustle for a moment to reconnect with yourself. When you do this, you’re taking a step towards a calmer, more centered holiday.
How do you deal with stress and overwhelm during the holidays? How can you add pause to your week to make Passover more calming for you and your family? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments!